Monday, November 28, 2011

 Thank you letters
This tradition that seems entirely appropriate around the Thanksgiving holiday...

Around this time of year, I reflect on those pivotal people in my life who made a difference to me.  I choose a few of them each year and pen a letter of gratitude to them.

This year I will be including in my list of appreciated, the fabulous Mrs. Keefe, my 7th grade science teacher who made science tangible and an exciting world of wonder.  Thank you, Mrs. Keefe!

Ask your child to think of someone who they admire or who is important in their life.  Help her craft a brief message in her own handwriting.  If your child is too young to write, then have her draw a picture to the special person.

Gratitude is a great gift to share with those who have influenced your child's life.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cranberry Letters
No way, you say? ...Cranberries can be THAT FUN!  Oh yes!
Cranberry Letter Snakes:
Set out a bowl of fresh cranberries and a pile of toothpicks on the counter.  Have your child tell you how many letters are in a word that you'd like to practice. 
H-O-P-E has 4 letters, so your child will place 4 cranberries in front of her.  Then, let your child write a letter on each cranberry to spell out the word HOPE.  This is a favorite treat to be able to use the forbidden "permanent markers"!

Now, have your child attach the cranberries together with toothpicks to create their word. 

Keep your child busy learning on Thanksgiving morning while you're basting the turkey by giving your child a list of Thanksgiving words to create with the cranberry letters.  Be sure to make enough cranberry letters to build all the words.  The list lets your child check the list to make sure each word is spelled correctly.

Another fun activity with Cranberry Letters:
Use a black permanent marker and write the letters of a few words you'd like to practice on fresh cranberries.

Remember those water noodles from this summer?  Cut off a one to two foot piece and slice it down the middle in half to form a tube.

Now ask your child to spell or sound out a word.  "How do you spell Turkey?"  Your child finds the correct letters on each cranberry and rolls them down the tube into a bowl.  You can help to make sure he is spelling the word correctly.
Now that you have a bowl full of the correct letters, have your child arrange the cranberry letters into the word T-U-R-K-E-Y.  Voila!  Your child has just spelled a word twice and doesn't even know that he was tricked into practicing his spelling words!

You can also float the cranberries that make a word in a bowl of water and let your child scoop out each letter in order with a slotted spoon.  Double fun!

You can practice sight words or sounding out words too.  Give your child a handful of cranberries with the letters that spell out a word you'd like to practice.  Let her roll the letters down the tube and into a bowl or scoop the letters from a bowl of water.  Arrange the letters into the word you are practicing.  Have your child sound out or recognize the cranberry word.  For some reason, your child will actually have fun reading the word is BECAUSE IT'S WRITTEN ON CRANBERRIES!
Now We're Talkin' Turkey!

Monday, November 14, 2011

SMMART ART: Cranberry Pies

This activity is just for fun and to keep the kiddos busy while you're preparing a lovely turkey feast!

Break out the playdough, or make up a batch of your own salt dough/play dough.  Judy, the nursery leader at our church makes the BEST playdough!
Judy's Play Dough Recipe:
-Mix together in bowl: 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt and 1 Tbl Alum. Boil 1 cup of water, add 1 Tbl oil and food coloring to water after it has come to a boil.
-Pour it into the dry ingredients and stir. If it is too sticky add a little more flour. It seems to set up more as it cools down.

Set out the playdough, a mini rolling pin (you can use a fat pencil or short wooden dowel too), a plastic knife and some small cookie cutters.  Lay out a bowl of cranberries too.

Roll up two balls in your hands and flatten them out for your top and bottom crust.  You can shape your bottom crust and flute the edges or just build up the edges and criss-cross pattern them with the edge of the knife.  Fill the bottom crust with cranberries and make a small mound.

You can cut thin strips from the top crust and make a lattice top to cover your pie.  You can cut out little shapes to place over the top of your pie filling, or you can just drape the top crust over your pie and make ventilation slits with your knife. 
So many ways to create the perfect little cranberry pies!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Turkey Shooters

Gobble, Gobble.  These little Turkey Shooters are fun and easy to make with your kiddos.  Roll up a half-piece of construction paper into a tube.  Make sure the diameter is just large enough to fit a cranberry.  Cut 5 or 6 slits down one end of the tube.  Place a pencil at the tip of one of the "feathers" you just cut and roll the feather over the pencil to curl it.  Curl all of the feathers.  Glue on a pair of googlie eyes and a waddle that you cut from a red piece of construction paper. 

Write a list of festive Thanksgiving words:  Turkey, Pumpkin, Stuffing, Thanks, Pilgrim...  With a permanent marker, write each letter of the words on a separate cranberry.  You don't have to write letters for each word, since some words share letters.  Place the cranberry letters in a bowl.

Have your child hold the beak tip of his Turkey Shooter.  He can put a paperclip on the beak tip to hold it closed if that is easier.  Let your child find the letters of a word on the list from the bowl and place the letters in the correct order into the Turkey Shooter.  When all of the letters are in place, your child can release the beak tip and watch the letters roll out.  If he is skilled enough the letters will stay in order, but many times they roll out quickly and get a little out of order.  Have your child refer to the list to place the cranberry letters in the correct order.  Double spelling practice.

SMMART MATH:  This would be a fun way to practice addition.  3+3=   Place three cranberries into the Turkey Shooter and then three more.  Release the beak tip and then your child can count up the 6 cranberries that roll out.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cranberry Garland Patterns

Yes! Cranberry Relish and Turkey Season is approaching! 

On that fine Turkey Day when all are busily baking...keep your children merrily making with a simple cranberry and popcorn garland.
Lay out a bowl of cranberries for each garland maker and a big bowl of popcorn in the center of the table for all to share.  Thread a long piece of dental floss onto a large, fat needle (little hands may need some supervision).

Now, you know the routine...cranberry, cranberry, cranberry, popcorn, popcorn, cranberry, cranberry, cranberry... and so it goes.  Have your child create her own garland pattern. 

Go outside and find the perfect tree upon which to lay your Thanksgiving Bird Feast.  Your child will be particularly thrilled they get to feed the cold little birdies while you all indulge in the cranberry sauce and stuffing inside.


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